A fine all- round performance propelled Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to an emphatic 71 run victory over Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) eliminator as the latter crashed out of the tournament . In reply to RCB’s formidable 180/4, the Royals were bundled out for a paltry 109 in 19 overs. RCB now play Chennai Super Kings in the qualifier 2, with the winner facing Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens in the May 24 final.
Ajinkya Rahane played lone battle for the Royals with a 39-ball 42, as none of the other batsmen came up with any notable contribution, as Sreenath Aravind, Harshal Patel, David Wiese and Yuzvendra Chahal picked up two wickets each for RCB. Rajasthan were jolted early in their innings as inform batting allrounder Shane Watson (10) got out cheaply followed by the talented youngster Sanju Samson (5) who edged it to the keeper off a Harshal Patel delivery.
They could only manage to reach 40/2 in the powerplay as the willowers found it quite difficult playing the shots on the two paced strip. Skipper Steve Smith (12), however, tried to anchor the innings but just as the Australian was getting into the groove, he lofted one straight down the throat of AB de Villiers at sweeper cover. At the end of 10 overs, Rajasthan were reeling at 68/3. The wickets kept on tumbling as the Royals felt the scoreboard pressure with the asking rate going up after every dot ball. Rahane perished in the deep while Australian allrounder James Faulkner (4) was out caught and bowled by Sreenath Aravind after he managed to squeeze one up in the air off his boots. From 55/3 in 8.1 overs, the Royals collpased to 95/8 in the 16th over, as the innings never got going.
Earlier in the day, de Villiers top scored for RCB with a 38-ball 66, while Mandeep with his unbeaten knock of 54 from 34 balls was the other major contributor as the duo put together a 113-run partnership. Choosing to bat on a two paced wicket, RCB were off to a steady start as both openers Chris Gayle (27) and Virat Kohli cautiously negotiated the bowlers who kept hurling at an impeccable line and length.
But both Gayle and Kohli fell in quick succession and thereafter youngster Mandeep helped RCB reach 60/2 at the halfway stage after runs were down to a trickle. However, de Villiers who had been quietly picking up the ones and twos, finally broke the shackles as he clobbered left arm spinner Ankit Sharma for 19 runs in the 15th over, in turn bringing up the 100 for his side.
Mandeep joined in the act as the duo cruised along on high gears notching 37 from the next 18 balls, which included two huge sixes from de Villiers off Chris Morris in the 18th over. Though the South African got run out, Mandeep ensured they had a formidable total on the scoreboard. For the Royals, Dhawal Kulkarni (2/28) was the pick of the bowlers.